Vehicles Powered by Alternative Energy Sources Displayed at 21st Century Automotive Challenge

The Thomas D. Larson Pennsylvania Transportation Institute’s Hybrid and Hydrogen Vehicle Research Laboratory will host the 21st Century Automotive Challenge on May 16-19 at Penn State’s University Park campus.

The 21st Century Automotive Challenge will give visitors a chance to check out vehicles powered by a number of alternative energy sources, including electricity, compressed natural gas and biodiesel. Image: Michael Casper

Participating vehicles will represent a broad range of automotive power choices, including electric, hybrid, pluggable hybrid, compressed natural gas, and biodiesel.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, the vehicles will be on display at Penn State’s MorningStar Solar Home, located on Porter Road between Park Avenue and College Avenue. Visitors will have an opportunity to ask questions and talk with competition participants during the display event. The display event is free and open to the public.

"Our participants range from the hobbyist to the entrepreneur, from a team of high school students to current market vehicles," said Joel Anstrom, director of the laboratory and a senior research associate at the Larson Institute.

The vehicle laboratory is partnering with Penn State's Sustainability Institute to integrate vehicle-to-grid elements into the competition between competitors and the center's award-winning MorningStar Solar Home.

"This competition format will demonstrate the reality of car, grid, and home interconnectivity," said David Riley, associate professor in the Department of Architectural Engineering, "especially pertinent with the emergence of production pluggable electric and hybrid cars in the American consumer marketplace."

As part of the event, Anstrom will present a seminar for high school students on battery technology for transit applications. This outreach effort is intended to provide workforce development and is being conducted with support from the Mineta National Transit Research Consortium, Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University.

With vehicles representing a range of advanced technologies, the competition events will include inspection and dynamic tests as well as travel scenarios representing a busy day of errands and a day of leisure travel. Participants include teams from the former American Tour de Sol Electric Vehicle Championship, and Eastern Electric Vehicle Club. Scoring officials will include professionals from Penn State engineering alumni, Penn State's Department of Energy-sponsored Graduate Automotive Technology Education Program, Central Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, and the local racing community.

"We are excited to be centering this competition in Penn State's domain, where many different types of advanced alternative fuel vehicle technologies have been designed, built, and researched, and where infrastructure for various means of fueling exist," said Anstrom.

Vehicles represented at this year's event include:

  • Tesla Model S - Don Auker, EV owner
  • Chevy S10 EV - Alan Arrison, hobbyist
  • Toyota Prius - James Natale, HEV owner
  • Nissan Leaf - Ken Barbour, EV owner
  • BioDiesel Volkswagen Jetta - Ed Kriebick, hobbyist
  • EV Trike - Methacton High School
  • Biodiesel Volkswagen Jetta - Jonathan Bartlett, hobbyist
  • HEV Ford F150 Pickup - Paul Kydd, entrepreneur
  • Vectrix EV Motorcycle - Cory Rideout, EV owner
  • Vectrix EV Motorcycle - Penn State Police Services
  • Chevrolet Volt - Sustainability Institute
  • Chevrolet Fiero EV - Pennsylvania College of Technology
  • Subaru WRX CNG Conversion - Penn State GATE students
  • Honda Civic GX CNG Vehicle - Penn State Fleet Operations and Office of Physical Plant
  • Cooper Mini-E EV - U-Go charging stations
  • Tesla Roadster GV - Michael Craner, entrepreneur


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